Allentown NIZ rebounds with record tax revenue – The Morning Call

After weathering the COVID pandemic with a smaller-than-expected decline in total tax revenue, the Allentown Neighborhood Improvement Area rebounded with a record 2021 figure.

The Allentown Neighborhood Improvement Area Development Authority said Wednesday that businesses in the city’s one-of-a-kind tax grant area generated a record $94.5 million in national tax revenue. and local in 2021, an increase of over 20% from $78.3 million in 2020. The latter figure was a decrease of 9% from 2019.

About $22 million will go to the State Department of Revenue to service excess debt.

The 130-acre downtown area along Hamilton Street and the Lehigh Riverfront generated $22 million in tax revenue before the NIZ took effect in 2009. ANIZDA is legally required to return that total amount when the NIZ generates enough revenue beyond what is needed to make debt repayments, as it has done in four of the past five years.

The NIZ allows developers to tap virtually all state and local tax revenue (excluding property taxes) created by their new projects to repay construction loans.

The bulk of 2021 revenue went to downtown Allentown, totaling $44.4 million that will go to the developer’s project debt. Jaindl Enterprises received $5.1 million for its Waterfront project and Alvin H. Butz Inc., which owns the Butz Corporate Center, received $468,768. Other projects that were mixed together totaling $50.8 million included the Americus Hotel, Riverfront Lofts I, Sacred Heart of St. Luke, and Vault 634.

In his report to the authority, ANIZDA executive director Steve Bamford said activity resumed in the spring.

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“It’s been a very busy April,” Bamford said. “We kicked off a $2 million streetscape improvement project with the mayor (Matt Tuerk) taking a hammer from a bench during a press event. We had the grand opening of the Da Vinci Science Center and the grand opening of the Sports and Social restaurant.

Bamford also said representatives from Moody’s Investors Service were in town. Two of the NIZ’s government revenue bonds were downgraded by Moody’s in December 2019. Moody’s kept it negative in a December 2020 report.

“We also hosted Moody’s reviews and they were impressed with the progress we’ve made,” he said.

In another case, ANIZDA approved a transfer of $4 million from the surplus fund to the surplus revenue account for use in public improvements, such as the Hamilton Street project.

The authority also added a slight change to how its members will be selected going forward, as Allentown gains an additional state senator and goes from two to three state representatives. For each of their board picks, senators and representatives will need to come to an agreement for their respective selections.

The number of members of the body will remain at nine.

Morning Call reporter Evan Jones can be reached at [email protected].

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